With a band extending to as many as six individuals, there are two ways the music could go; either everyone works towards a refined, sleek sound, or chaos ensues; for Your Favorite Enemies, a fair balance seems to have been strung up between the two extremes. Previously commended by Kerrang! as “Canada’s best kept secret”, the post-punkers have a keen ear for a dense and focussed yet intricate style that seems to have been skipped over on these shores. The album was recorded in the band’s own studio (a former church) with the help of John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kills).
At under two minutes, opening Satsuki Yami is somewhat of an anomaly in track lengths. Hereinafter anything under four minutes seems comparatively short, and in more than just this feature the song gives little away about the record. A bizarre mix of seagulls and children’s laughter provides the backbone for the piece with fuzzed in synth meets psych undertones complicating the sound further.
Lead single off the album Empire of Sorrows is an epic of six and a half minutes, yet still on the shorter side of the tracks. You find yourself braced for a cliche of an unruly, loud opening after such a subtle welcome, and there’s a pleasant surprise in the more sophisticated sound. The vocals sit somewhere along the line of spoken word and poetry, building up to a more melodic and hazy sound; what’s so unique about this is how the delicacy of the opening isn’t lost among the hectic instrumental. Darker lyrics with a strange tone of nonchalance prevail at moments when the music disperses, and the length of the track makes it one you can lose yourself in.
A View From Within is another one on the lengthy side, a touch under six minutes and still running with the all-consuming sound that they prove to be so excellent at. Whilst the sound doesn’t leap out at you in boldness, it simmers violently away and grabs your attention with thrown out tendrils such as the mis of languages contributing to the sound. Partially masked vocals become another feature prominent on this track, reappearing again on the penultimate track Obsession is a Gun, one which stands out for it’s opening third of dense, tense and quiet instrumental.
It’s an unavoidable common factor in the tracks; the instrumental is almost overwhelmingly intense, a feature highlighted in sixth track, From the City to the Ocean. An opening that’s a touch faster makes sets it aside from the rest, whilst the atmospheric mood of the track keeps it linked in with the others. In keeping with the post-punk theme, Where Did We Lose Each Other boasts a wild and fluctuating backing to compliment the strong vocals, and at the other end of the scale, 1-2-3 (One Step Away) is a strobe lighting effect (and a continent) away from being a Eurovision Song Contest winner.
Both Underneath A Stretching Skyline and I Just Want You To Know take pride in their vocally driven sounds, with the former standing out for its eccentricity in them after a guitar-heavy opening. Finale Muets Aux Temps Des Amours proves to be my personal favourite off the record, with an instrumental opening that melts into the definite structure of the track.
I wouldn’t say this is a stand-up-and-grab-you rock album that demands attention, it more subtly suggests it and allows you to lose yourself in the complex instrumental. Confident and clean, this is unlike much in the UK, instead filling niches that you didn’t realise needed filling.